- Die Sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze (The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross), for string quartet, H. 3/50-56
Haydn: The Seven Last Words of Christby Susanne Kelling
When Franz Joseph Haydn composed his string quartet version of "The Seven Last Words of Christ" (one of several versions he either wrote or authorized), he incorporated Jesus' final sentences in the score under their associated melodies, though they were not intended to be sung. In practice, a priest would intone the last words before each of the sonatas, which were played for the congregation as slow meditations. Spanish composer José Peris Lacasa, a student of Carl Orff and Nadia Boulanger, has worked the combination of words and music into a performing version for mezzo-soprano and string quartet, and this release by Susanne Kelling and the Henschel Quartet is the premiere recording. To an extent, the value of this arrangement lies in spelling out the connections Haydn made between the Biblical words and his thematic material, which are not evident to listeners who hear the string quartet version without a score. In practical terms, this is an alternate version for appreciation outside of a church service, perhaps for listeners who have dissociated the music from its intended use on Good Friday. But those who know the instrumental version well may be a little startled by the vocal part, especially when it appears suddenly in the sonatas, highlighting certain motives with a disconcerting effect. Kelling sings the text in Latin, so the meaning of the words is not readily apparent (the texts aren't included in the booklet). While the singer and the quartet profess a growing fondness for performing "The Seven Last Words of Christ" in this arrangement, listeners may be less sanguine about it, especially when there are many first-rate recordings of the work without singing that have greater emotional impact.
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Performance CreditsSusanne Kelling Primary Artist
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